How Do Some Teens React to Death?


From “The Enneagram of Death” by E. Wagele

In this blog, teens or former teens of three Enneagram types react to the deaths of close family members. These stories are from The Enneagram for Teens: Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self.

Elayne, a 2-Helper and a cheerleader: ”I was the go-between and caretaker in my family when I was a child. But I didn’t do a very good job of taking care of myself. I’ve always taken things personally… I’d get my feelings hurt and burst into tears.

When I was twelve years old my mother and grandmother died in a plane crash, leaving my father to care for me and my younger brother, Lee. We moved a lot. Moving my senior year was the hardest; I had worked hard for the yearbook and newspaper positions and giving up being cheerleading captain really hurt. I had to leave old friends, start a new school, learn new routines, adjust to a stepfamily, and make new friends. I felt as if I were on the outside looking in, as if I didn’t belong anywhere.

From "The Enneagram of Death" by E. Wagele

From “The Enneagram of Death” by E. Wagele

My feeling left out and different from other people are both linked to the loss of my mother and grandmother. I floated through middle school and high school. Everything was surreal. I don’t remember much about those years. I wasn’t okay during the decade following the plane crash. My brother Lee wasn’t okay. I put up a wall so people wouldn’t know how confused and powerless I felt. I never talked about the crash to anyone, even my best friends.” —Elayne

Bob, a 4-Romantic with a talent for writing: ”I was a first child, the center of attention, and early on had the idea I was meant for special things. When my sister and brother came along, I resented the competition but never lost my sense of specialness. When I was ten, my sister died. It threw my parents into a depression and turned our house into an unhappy place. Without knowing that’s what I was doing, I started building a life outside it.” – Bob

Tom, a self-sufficient 5-Observer: “My father died when I was 12 and my mother slipped further into her alcoholism. Within two months of his death, I moved from a life of considerable affluence to one of poverty. I was essentially orphaned, even though there were some significant other adults in my life who helped me—in particular, my only living grandparent…

I always did well in school (even though my mother took no interest). Most of the friends I chose were like me: fatherless and poor. But these were fairly strong bonds. I was quite clinically depressed, although I had no idea that I was, had no idea there was such a thing as depression. I had to do everything for myself, including earning all my money for clothes, car, entertainment. I became extremely self-sufficient, the downside to that being I learned never to ask anyone for anything.

I was mostly unclear about who I was or who I was becoming. I made choices compulsively, desperately, with little or no consideration of the consequences. This quality led to a number of interesting adventures, but not much that was helpful in climbing out of the black hole of adolescence.” – Tom

Read reviews of The Enneagram for Teens. Buy the paperback  or tablet version. See also The Enneagram of Death.


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